The Miami Heat and the team's fans considered superstar Dwyane Wade to be a member of the team for life. But, after 13 seasons, 20,000 points, and three championships with the Heat, Wade has left Miami for the Windy City and the Chicago Bulls.
Dwayne Wade will return to Chicago, his hometown, for an offer of $47.5 million across two seasons. The contract was $7 million over a last ditch offer from the Heat to keep him down south. Still, many fans are wondering why he would choose to leave after so many years in Florida.
The squabbles began between Wade and Pat Riley, the team president, over Wade's contract two years ago. The struggles between the organization and its reigning champ were rife despite attempts from the team's owner, Micky Arison, who made several attempts to resolve the impasse between the two characters.
Wade was seeking $50 million across two years from the Miami team. Riley countered the demand with a two-year $40 million deal. Reports suggest Wade also wanted a third year on his contract. This was also denied.
These terms presented problems for the Heat. The team had already invested a large sum in players like Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic. The team also wanted enough to ensure flexibility to lure in other players for the next few seasons.
Denying their most recognizable asset the cash he wanted was the best way to give the team leverage in the future. In fact, doing so was a long-standing practice.
Despite his larger-than-life status on the court, Wade has never had the highest salary on the team. Yet, he has also sacrificed around $25 million for the organization over the past decade. Thus, it is possible that Wade felt neglected by the team, who despite his star power, was constantly courting the next big thing under the assumption that Wade would never leave.
Yet, Wade was capable of walking away, even if the team did not believe he could.
In fact, the Cavaliers seemed as though they would be the choice team for the four-time MVP, if only because of the love between James and Wade. The duo were seen vacationing together with their wives in Spain earlier this summer.
It was also possible that James might return the favor for Wade and make a sacrifice in his salary to accommodate Wade. The deal would not dent James's pocket book. He has a lifetime deal with Nike worth a reported $1 billion.
James could also campaign for a backdoor entry to the Cavaliers from another team. After all, that is how LeBron ended up back in Cleveland.
The bonus from the Cavaliers would not be financial but psychological. It would salt the Heat's open wound left by James when he jumped ship.
Regardless of mistrust and hurt feelings, it is all over now. Wade published his goodbye letter to the Heat and his Miami family on Wednesday evening, and affirmed his decision to return to the city he once called home.
The question now is whether Wade can continue to move forward, even after going back.
[Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images]